John Pennington’s gloating again, and this time he just comes right out and says so.
I don’t blame him because he’s been spot on — about the quarterback rotation, about the too-deep receiver rotation, etc. — since I started reading him a few weeks ago.
One interesting tidbit I had missed the first time:
Yesterday, I wrote that there’s a lot of blame being left at Randy Sanders’ doorstep (he deserves some), but that folks might want to look a bit higher up the flagpole. Sanders’ offensive gameplan is approved by Fulmer every week.
Now second-hand rumors (a “SportsTalk” caller who had a family member speak with Sanders) have Sanders referring to the fact that he’s “got a boss, too.”
After establishing his credibility, Pennington rebuts two criticisms that have been oft-repeated this week in Knoxville by talk show callers (and by me right after the game).
First, Pennington points out that the Vols in fact did not “go away from the run” until after they got behind by two scores. Valid point, but I still sometimes question the conventional wisdom that a team must pass in order to catch up in a hurry. If a team is running well and not passing well, stopping the clock doesn’t do much good, and if you get a first down, the clock stops (until the chains are re-set) regardless of whether you got the first down throwing it or running it. But still, Pennington is right that the big problem was not that the Vols didn’t run, but that they didn’t get to run many plays at all. They apparently had only one possession in the third quarter.
Pennington also counters the common complaint that the play-calling is horrid by pointing out that it really isn’t much different from the times UT has had success (like in 1998), and it really all comes down to players making plays.
Or not, as the case may be.
Pennington’s parting thought is that while naming Erik Ainge the quarterback for the long haul and deciding to limit the substitutions for the receivers combine to make a good first step, it may be too little, too late. He thinks the Vols are playing catch up, and he doesn’t think the Vols will find their groove this week against LSU.
That’s almost certainly right. The quarterback and receiver fixes are positive changes, and I’ll add that I think the team’s attitude might be right for the first time this season. A loss has a way of doing that, doesn’t it? But the problem is indeed one of timing and rhythm, and one beat of the drum doesn’t make a rhythm. Plus, the offensive line is being tinkered with again, and I don’t like the “get the five best players on the field” philosophy. More on that when I have more time.
Anyway, if you haven’t already, make John Pennington an every day must read. He’s that good.
And pat him on the back so he doesn’t tear a rotator cuff doing it himself.